For those of you who are stuck, up against doubts or misconceptions, or are simply impatient, it may be helpful to consider a spiritual teacher (guru, spiritual master). While searching it is a good idea to be mindful of some of the things associated with teachers, such as the practices they teach, and when to stop shopping around and settle on one—this is an inner conflict that many people have, especially in the West where information is God and searching can lead to interminable shopping. Never settling on any one teacher can lead to “guru hopping” or becoming an “eclectic”, neither of which will ever lead to the depths so desperately sought.
And then there is the vast difference between seeking knowledge and seeking a teacher, which are often confused.
Where spiritual practices are concerned, it is best to have only one teacher. Otherwise there can be no way for any teacher to correctly guide you. Because you cannot reflect things specific to any one practice, misunderstandings and mistakes will be made. This is a huge disadvantage to you. So as a matter of getting good guidance, having only one teacher is vitally important.
Also, if a teacher is in possession of oral teachings that cannot be written but conveyed only orally to individuals at crucial points in their practice, that teacher will have to know that a student is committed and loyal to that teacher and that path before these teachings can be passed on. From the teacher’s point of view, this is critically important. This situation exists in all spiritual paths, whether it is known about or not by those outside these teachings.
So shop, but find your spiritual home before you discover that you have spent years digging shallow holes when by digging deeply, there is gold to be found in them there hills! Think of your teacher as your Sadhana Teacher, the teacher that is home for you, where you can come by appropriate guidance and make the quickest progress. Stick to the sadhana (spiritual practices) that teacher gives you, and to his or her teachings concerning that sadhana.
But most people are not engaged in sadhana 24/7, so what do you do between times? There are a number of things you can do that would be consistent with your sadhana, but the favorite in the West is knowledge.
Practice and learning are different things. Many teachers have strict guidelines on what their students and disciples can read and do outside of their formal practices (sadhana). This is very common in yoga. My first teacher, who led me to Swami Kripalu, was one of these. She had a list. We were not to read anything not on this list. As a teacher, I feel differently about this.
I do not object to the study of the spiritual texts of other paths or religions. This can be very enlightening and, by providing different points of view, can actually lead to a better understanding of your own path. We are all unique and I believe our differences must be acknowledged and respected. I do not believe in trying to limit anyone. This would be in direct conflict with the essential nature of an individual possessing unlimited potential.
On the other hand, some students automatically resist reading or studying anything outside of their guru’s teachings or the teachings of the lineage. I think during the ‘honeymoon’ phase of one’s association with the Sadhana Teacher, this is a wise move. Get grounded first, using these teachings as a springboard for gaining the ability to understand the teachings of your own path, and then you can read and understand anything. But before you become grounded in your own path, moving through the teachings of one path after another can make you crazy with doubts, confusions, and a multitude of misunderstandings … and your own sadhana can get stuck in the confusing mud of multiple view-points.
I don’t think there ever need be any conflict regarding the scriptures and commentaries of realized masters regardless of their path (if you don’t know if a text fits this criteria, ask your Sadhana Teacher). Most seeming contradictions are merely a lack of understanding that could be instrumental to deeper knowledge. This is usually the case where various religions, teaching lineages and spiritual paths diverge.
In any case, the kinds of restrictions on learning required by many teachers do not fit my ideals for SKY Haven. Nothing would please me more that to have the opportunity to sit with all of you in discussions generated by new insights gained from the study of various scriptures.
The beauty of surrender sadhana, which is primarily Surrender Meditation, is that it recognizes these differences we have as natural, and that they will all come together in the end anyway.
Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that you really are),
P.S. I am putting my Life Mastery hat back on again. Please pay a visit to the website and see what’s going on: LifeMasterySelfCoaching.com